Stunning end to playoffs for NACI Tigers



By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

The WHSHL playoffs ended in an abrupt and shocking fashion over the weekend for the NACI Tigers hockey team, with a 4-3 loss to the Crocus Plains Plainsmen. Crocus stunned the Tigers on Sunday, Mar. 4,  by scoring a pair of goals in the final 1:17 of the third period. With the victory, Crocus claimed the third and deciding game of the best-of-three series.

Xavier Egan scored for the Plainsmen with 1:17 remaining, while Preston Easter picked up the game and series winner, with just 9.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Kyle Fenwick and Brendan Garbutt scored the others for the Brandon-based team. As for the Tigers, Owen Wiebe scored twice, with his second hitting the back of the net with just one second left in the second period. Bryce Kusugak scored the only other goal for NACI.

This was the third game in as many days between the two teams, as they first matched up in Brandon on Friday, Mar. 2 for game one. Crocus Plains picked up the win, by a score of 5-4. Ben Rainka scored twice, while Jesse Jones and Wiley Speiss added lone goals for NACI.

The next day, the two teams faced off in Neepawa. For this contest, the Tigers replied with a 5-2 victory. For this game, Rhys Lewis scored a pair. Rainka,  Jones and Owen Wiebe also notched goals. 

With the series victory, Crocus Plains move on to the next round of the consolation playoffs , where they will face the winner of the Swan River/REM series.

As for the championship playoff bracket, the undefeated Vincent Massey Vikings are facing the Killarney Raiders in the final.